A Lasting Power of Attorney authorises a trusted friend or relative to make decisions on someone’s behalf, should they lose the capacity to do this themselves. If an individual is diagnosed with dementia, it is highly recommended that they sign a Lasting Power of Attorney if they are able to do so.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) means that a person’s affairs can be dealt with, even after they become unable to manage matters on their own behalf. Without an LPA, it can be very difficult for friends and family to help a loved one as they will not have the authority to pay bills or make arrangements for care.
Lasting Powers of Attorney explained
There are two types of LPA available, one in respect of property and financial affairs and one dealing with health and welfare. You can make one or both types of LPA, appointing one or more attorneys to deal with your affairs, should you need help in the future.
Under a property and financial affairs LPA, your attorney will be able to deal with your bank account, pay bills on your behalf, sell your home, invest money for you and claim benefits.
Using a health and welfare LPA, your attorney can make decisions regarding your care, to include where you will live, how day to day life will look and what medical treatments you will have. This can include refusing some life-sustaining treatment.
Your attorney will not be able to use the health and welfare LPA until you are no longer able to make your own decisions. It is open to you to limit your attorney’s power when signing the LPA and to specify what you would like to happen in the future.
Signing a Lasting Power of Attorney if you have dementia
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it is still possible to make a Lasting Power of Attorney provided you have the mental capacity to do so. This means that the person in question must be able to:
- Understand the implications of signing and what the consequences are
- Remember what they have been told about the LPA for long enough to make a decision about whether or not to sign
- Consider the options and make their own decision
- Communicate their decision in some way
It is sometimes the case that individuals have better understanding on some days than others.
If someone has had a dementia diagnosis, it is often a good idea to have medical confirmation that they have adequate mental capacity to sign an LPA to avoid any disputes or misunderstandings over the validity of their LPA arising in the future.
What happens if you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney
Without an LPA, it will be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order to enable you to deal with someone’s affairs if they lose the ability to do this for themselves. Even if you are married to someone, you cannot step in to make decisions on their behalf without legal authority.
Obtaining a deputyship order is a longer and more complicated process than being appointed as an attorney. It can leave families in a difficult position while the application is dealt with and also requires more ongoing supervision by the Court of Protection.
Wherever possible, it is advisable to put an LPA in place, particularly if someone has been given a dementia diagnosis. While it is difficult to think about the future, it can make matters much easier for loved ones where plans have been made.
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